Another Lesson from Grownup School


When one gets too comfortable in one’s philosophy, one develops Mental Bedsores

I Am My Own Teacher

Valmorel (photo: Club Med)

DIRE is such a lovely, flexible word to describe circumstances and states of mind.

DIRE is when your car is dangling by one wheel from the edge of a cliff, and you are in it. (You are rescued, and when later you describe your moments of peril to your friends, you use the word DIRE with a certain satisfaction… the kind of satisfaction that can be experienced only in retrospect. Thinking DIRE while you are IN danger is neither useful nor satisfying.)

DIRE, but less intensely so, is when you are on vacation in Valmorel and you return to your hotel room after an enchanting day of skiing, and your money, credit cards, traveler’s cheques, and passport are missing. Even direr would be discovering that your room was no longer your room but was now occupied by a family of eight from Texarkana. (Oh, wow! Wrong room! Thank the deities!)

13th-century Persian poet, Sufi mystic Rumi

13th-century Persian poet, Sufi mystic Rumi

DIRE is the word that I have sometimes used, internally, to describe my current circumstances, which in themselves are irrelevant to this Lesson but which have caused me to seek knowledge and explore paths to serenity from all the sages whom the Internet gives me access to—Louise Hay, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Rumi, Mary Baker Eddy, Pee Wee Herman, and many others. On the surface, their messages seem to conflict. In none have I found the overarching wisdom that creates the “Aha!” moment. What I have come to realize, however, is that (a) there is universal truth—or there are, at least, common and enduring themes—underlying all the points of view, and (b) I can pick and choose and synthesize and adopt whatever resonates with my innate spiritual insight and my experience. This becomes my truth, though it continues to evolve. Thus does my self-perception shift from that of Small and Helpless Seeker to Wise but Continually Seeking Teacher.

At 64, I am surprised to discover so many Life Lessons yet to learn. Not since my iconoclastic freshman year at Stanford University have so many of my assumptions been overturned, BLAM, like bowling pins. And so this is a Good Thing. When one gets too comfortable in one’s philosophy, one develops Mental Bedsores.

NEXT: Universal Truth

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